Schwalbe Tires Explained | Tire Construction

Schwalbe mountain bike tires construction  explained  super trail tire on the ground

Schwalbe Tire Construction:

Super Downhill vs Super Gravity vs Super Trail vs Super Ground vs Super Race

Which is best for you?


    With riding disciplines becoming more and more specified, the need for more and more specificed components is also rising. Specific components go beyond stanchion diameter and cogs on a cassette, they also extend to tires. Aggressive riders and rocky, rough trails require a burlier tire to prevent flats and rim damage. Cross country racers, on the other hand, need something light that rolls extremely well.

    These disciplines, and many others inbewteen, place different weights on various things in a tire and Schwalbe does an excellent job at making sure the niches are filled.

    Here at The Lost Co, we tend to focus on trail, enduro, and downhill applications for components and tires. With that, we primarily stock and sell Super Downhill, Super Gravity, and Super Trail. In order to help you decide what you need for your riding applications, we will cover all compounds provided by Schwalbe.

Schwalbe super trail tire on the ground laced to a stans rim

    The skeleton, or construction, of a tire plays a huge part in support, puncture resistance, and rolling resistance. A tire with a light construction, such as the Super Race, will provide a little less support, slighlty less puncture resistance, but it will be able to roll fast. Generally speaking, those who are using Super Race tires are less likely to encounter terrain where more support is needed and punctures are less likely to happen. A tire with a heavy construction, such as Super Downhill, will have the upmost support, the best puncture protection, but it will roll much slower. When gravity is your friend, but the terrain is not, Super Downhill is the way to go. The tire's support will help you plow through roots and rocks, while the puncture protection will make sure you don't get any snake bites or fall victim to sharp objects.

    With five different tire constructions (which we will cover shortly), how do you decide which is best for you? For better or for worse, there is no direct answer other than; it depends on what attributes to you value most?

If you know you're going to be riding very hard over very unforgiving terrain, then the choice may be obvious. If you know you're going to be racing Cross Country and are after the fastest rolling tire, your decision should be easier. If you don't fall directly into one of those two camps, then a little brain power might be required.

    Lets dive into each construction Schwalbe offers in order to give you a more clear idea of what's out there.

Schwalbe mountain bike tires super trail leaning up against a work bench

Super Race

From Schwalbe:

"In no other discipline is the focus on rolling resistance and weight as critical as it is in cross-country and marathon competition. With the new Super Race construction, we are also setting new standards in suppleness - no other carcass glides so silky smooth over the ground, and thus providing traction, like Super Race does.

The patented turn-up construction is characterized by an exceptionally light and supple material mix. The tread is protected by a light protective insert and two carcass layers. The side walls are protected from cuts and snakebites by three carcass layers."

schwalbe super race mountain bike tire construction explained breakdown graphic

Super Ground

schwalbe super ground mountain bike tire construction explained graphic break down

From Schwalbe:
"Combines light weight and stability. Feels comfortable in any terrain. Balanced ratio of puncture protection and smooth rolling. For flowing trails, long rides and any terrain.

The modern, sophisticated construction guarantees riders an optimal combination of protection, light weight and rolling characteristics. The protective fabric insert, which runs from bead to bead, and three layers of carcass under the entire tread ensure a balance between safety and weight."

Super Trail

From Schwalbe:

"As versatile as a multi-tool: a stable construction, with a range of applications from intense all-mountain and trail rides to enduro use. Ideal for riders riding a medium-travel bike.

The construction is designed to combine moderate weight and reduced rolling resistance with high cornering traction and puncture protection. A stable carcass with two layers on the side wall and three layers under the tread. Fabric layer over the entire tire together with APEX for additional protection."

schwalbe super trail mountain bike tire construction explained graphic break down

Super Gravity

schwalbe super trail mountain bike tire construction explained graphic break down

From Schwalbe:

"Go where others dare not to venture . Where the rider and the trail demand everything from the material. Where the bikes have a lot of travel. Right there is the zone for tires with Super Gravity construction.

The tread and strong shoulders are protected in this extremely stable construction by four carcass layers in combination with a stable fabric layer (bead to bead). A special APEX layer protects against punctures and increases the lateral stiffness of the tire. Thanks to the turn-up construction, the tire remains unusually flexible for a particularly smooth ride."


Super Downhill

From Schwalbe:

"For the bravest and most aggressive. For those for whom no jump is too big, no descent too steep and no obstacle too large. Made for the Downhill World Cup. Super Downhill stands for uncompromising stability and performance like no other construction.

The most robust and stable (super) construction is double-layered. Six carcass layers protect the tread even at very low air pressures. The side walls are reliably protected against cut and pinch damage by a combination of four carcass layers and a stable fabric layer. A special APEX layer protects against cuts and increases the lateral stiffness of the tire. Due to the very stable folding core, the tires are also Tubeless easy."


schwalbe super downhill mountain bike tire construction explained graphic break down

Which Schwalbe Tire Construction
Is Best For You?

    Well.......... It depends.

    I think you have the general idea of why you might choose one over the other but lets dive into specific applications.

    If you are riding in the bike park, do not get a construction below Super Gravity, especially for the rear tire on your bike. That back tire of yours is going to take a beating at high speeds over break bumps and rocks. Save yourself some frustration and a long walk to the bottom of the lift, and get a durable, supportive tire. The lighter constructions are more susceptible to pinch flats, ruptures on your sidewall, and punctures - all of which are much more common when moving fast. Concerning the front tire, you can be a bit more flexible, but I wouldn't go below a Super Trail. This will save you a little weight and allow the tire to stay more planted.

    On my personal daily driver bike, a 170mm/165mm bike, riding around Bellingham, I rock a Super Gravity in the rear and Super Trail in the front. The Super Gravity provides more support and is less likely to flat when I inevitably case a jump or get off line and smash some rocks with my rear wheel. The hits I am taking don't quite require a Super Downhill like the repeated hard hits in the bikepark. Further, it's nice to save some weight when I am pedaling up a fire road for an hour or two.

    On a 140mm all-mountain bike, I typically use Super Trail tires. Generally speaking, the trails I am riding and the stress that is being put on the bike is less, so the support and the burliness of the sidewall are less of a concern.

    While certainly not an end all, be all rule, in general - the more travel you bike has, the burlier construction you should go with. When riding big burly downhill rigs with 200 mm's of travel, you guessed it, you should probably use the Super Downhill tire. When riding a short travel XC bike, Super Race or Super Ground makes the most sense. One instance where this is not the case is on some hard tails. A few friends who I ride with ride quite gnarly, steep, and chunky trails on their hard tails. In this case, you of course would want to go with a burlier sidewall to fit the terrain. A Super Gravity may not be out of the queston in the rear.

Wrapping It Up

    Schwalbe mountain bike tires come in five different constructions (Super Race, Super Ground, Super Trail, Super Gravity, and Super Downhill) in order to appease to niche audiences across the different mountain bike disciplines. We generally recommend a firmer compound on the rear, and a lighter one on the front. The back tire takes much more abuse, and therefore calls for a burlier construction. Saving a little weight on the front of your bike when you can is never a bad idea.

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Mike Randol



Bellingham, WA

Current Bikes: Mullet Devinci Spartan 27.5 Custom Build

Bike Size: Medium

Favorite Trails: Dirt Merchant in Whistler, Chuckanut Mountain Trails in Bellingham

About Me: I grew up hucking my bike off curbs in the suburbs of Chicago. I moved out to the PNW in 2014 and opened The Lost Co in 2016. I freaking love riding long rough descents and really pushing my body to the limit. I'll straight up ride any type of bike but really prefer long travel 27.5" bikes. However, mid-travel 29r's are growing on me...